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Black Institute urges CBC to speak out on immigration reform

3rd March 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Tony Best
Contributing Writer

Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News) — As immigration reform remains stalled on Capitol Hill, New York’s Black Backers of reform may head to Washington next month to push their case.

Fed up with Capitol Hill’s stalling on immigration reform, advocates for change in the nation’s laws may take their case to the public and influential groups in Washington next month to jolt lawmakers into action.

And the pressure may be applied to members of the Congressional Black Caucus who some New Yorkers complain are remaining “remarkably silent” on the immigration issue as the comprehensive reform measure remains stymied by Republican majority in the chamber.

“We want to do a very big forum in Washington to highlight this very issue of inaction on immigration by House members,” said Bertha Lewis, founder and chief executive of the Black Institute in New York. “We want to do it in Washington D.C. towards the end of March. We are going back to the nation’s capital. We are joining with other folks and organizations to highlight how African-Ameri­can and other Black voters think about this struggle. Repub­licans who have districts with more than 15 per cent Black registrations are going to have a very hard time. We have to take it to the voting booth.”

The Black Institute which has become a major immigration advocate in New York, focusing attention on the needs of Black immigrants, be they from Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the Caribbean or from Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.

For her part, Lewis remains perplexed by the failure of the Republican leadership to bring the reform bill to a vote and by what appears to be an apparent lukewarm response by some Democrats to the stalling tactics of the GOP majority.

“Delay of immigration of reform is just silly,” Lewis charged. “People have been waiting for years for reform to become the law of the land. To make them wait more is an insult. Either you do it or you don’t. This whole situation has a racist element to it and there is not even a debate. We know that economically the country needs reform and yet they (House) keep delaying it. If you can’t pass it this year they will never pass it. We should just face up to it that they are in fact not passing it because of race.

“I think the Congressional Black Caucus has got to become far more vocal on immigration reform and become far more engaged and visible on this issue,” Lewis added. “The Caucus should make it an issue in the 2014 election which is why we are trying to do everything that we can as the Black Institute to say to Black voters not to support the folks who refuse to do anything about immigration. We have just got to take it to that level because we have nothing to lose.

“I don’t know why the Caucus isn’t more active on immigration reform. It may be that the House Democratic leadership has something to do with that,” Lewis went on. “I just don’t know. Maybe they don’t have anything to lose to get into the debate. They must call it as they see it but for people to just throw up their hands and say ‘oh well we can’t get it done this year’ is unacceptable. We have to fight back.”

She said that pro-immigration reform supporters were turning to the streets in and out of Washington and New York to get something done, “fasting, doing everything, engaging in demonstrations. We don’t see anybody fighting for this. It is really disheartening. It also makes you mad to know that nobody is going to fight for you.”

On Monday, anti-deportation demonstrators, including undocumented immigrants were arrested outside of the White House in Washington as they protested against President Barack Obama’s policies which have resulted in almost two million people being kicked out of the country in the past few years, more than any other president.

The activists were demanding that the Administration suspend deportations while expanding the non-deportation policy called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”

This article originally published in the March 3, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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